Calgary Film Studio Project
Despite a lack of dedicated studio space, there are two successful television series (Heartland – CBC & Hell on Wheels – AMC) and one limited TV series (Fargo – FX Network) currently in production in Calgary, employing approximately 100 to 150 people per show. These series are currently being shot in existing warehouse space, including Currie Barracks. In addition, projects such as ‘Painkillers’ – a feature film, ‘The Dorm’ & ‘Fallout Asylum’ – made for TV Movies, are scheduled to be shot in Calgary in 2014. From what I’ve heard, there is high interest in Southern Alberta from both Canadian and foreign television, film and digital media producers.
Unfortunately, all of the warehouses that are home to these existing productions are going to be redeveloped, leased or sold within the next two years and all our existing productions must find new space or relocate. Relocating a television production is very expensive and a deterrent for attracting new productions. For example, Heartland has had to relocate three times in the past four years.
A proper film studio requires a capital investment that exceeds the ability of the private film production companies that are working in southern Alberta. The Alberta Government, in an effort to find a private sector investor, offered a $5 million grant for a film studio project in a formal Expression of Interest (“EOI”) process. The EOI attracted private sector applicants and CED. The Alberta Government short listed the applicants to three proposals – two from the private sector and CED. The Province determined that neither of the two private sector proposals were viable and awarded the $5 million grant to CED.
Private sector partners, who have been working in Southern Alberta, have been strong supporters of the CED led project and have demonstrated their support for the project through a:
- $1 million contribution from William F White, a company owned by Paul Bronfman; and
- commitment by the major southern Alberta production companies to lease space in the new facility.
The CED project as also received support from Calgary’s post-secondary institutions and the Producer’s Association.
In addition, CED has committed to securing another $2.3 million in private sector investment.
The pro forma operating budget demonstrates that the film studio will be viable in its first year. Please note the following:
- City Administration also performed a stress test on the pro-forma at a $5.5 million debt level and determined it to be feasible as well (The actual debt level set forth in the proposal is $4.5 million).
- Furthermore, the pro-forma assumes a 7.50% interest rate on debt servicing which is significantly higher than existing bank rates now available.